Second Arrest in 2003 Homicide

Council Bluffs Police have made a second arrest in a murder case dating back to July 21, 2003. James Cain Harris, 36, is in custody, accused of First Degree Murder.

The victim, 32-year-old Selena Alvarez-Hernandez of Omaha, was born with the name Nelson, but known as Selena, and was stabbed to death outside a residence in the 1600 block of South 13th Street in Council Bluffs.

At the time of the incident, witnesses had said there was a loud altercation taking place and the victim was yelling for help. Witnesses told police that they had seen several people near the victim but the crowd fled prior to the arrival of officers.

James Cain Harris was arrested Tuesday afternoon on a warrant for Murder in the First Degree. He was booked into Pottawattamie County Jail on a $1 Million bond. He made his initial appearance in Pottawattamie County District Court Wednesday morning and bond remained as orignally set. His case has been set for Preliminary Hearing on March 14th, 2014.

On January 24, Thomas J Sanchez, 47, of La Vista, was arrested for First Degree Murder for his alleged involvement in the same incident. Sanchez remains in the Pottawattamie County Jail on $1,000,000 bond and has a trial date of April 15th, 2014.

Several pieces of evidence were collected from the scene and a DNA profile was developed from one item of evidence belonging to an unknown male. That profile was compared to all DNA profiles in Iowa's Forensic Casework and Convicted Offender Indices, but investigators came up empty. The case went cold.

In late September, the Council Bluffs Police Department was notified by the Iowa DCI lab that the previously unknown DNA profile had been positively identified and it pointed to Thomas Sanchez.

Based on the new evidence, the case was re-opened by the Council Bluffs Police Department Criminal Investigation Division. Sanchez was located and arrested. Police said at that time that their investigation was continuing.


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